What does an interior designer and an environmental psychologist have in common? A lot more than you may think. The art of design and the science of how we think are actually very closely linked, especially when it comes to color.
Ever notice that your favorite fast food restaurants are loaded with reds? That’s because the fiery color stimulates the brain to boost hunger. How about the widespread use of gray in the workplace? The drab hue creates calm, composed moods that help workers concentrate and work harder.
The psychology of color is no mystery for commercial designers, but now it’s moving into the home. According to a first of its kind whitepaper on the topic from the American Society of Industrial Design (ASID), science can help designers understand how and why clients respond to their work, and improve the likelihood of success.
“There is proven scientific research on how people live and feel in their home, and what colors make people feel better,” says Barbara Miller, an interior designer and co-author of the paper. “The whitepaper recommends every designer meet their clients, find out all of their needs, then take a step to research those needs and introduce that research when finding solutions.”
Done in collaboration with environmental psychologist, Dr. Sally Augustin, the paper sites specific design challenges solved with science. One such example involves an older client, whose ageing vision drove her to demand a very bright shade of fuchsia be used in her office.
“This is contrary to all of the psychological studies,” says Miller. “You don’t want red in any place where you study, it hinders memory. What you want instead is yellow. That’s why legal pads are yellow.”
Despite this contradiction, the designer couldn’t simply paint the room a different color. And, Miller reminds, people are psychologically comfortable in rooms they feel are beautiful, even if the science says they shouldn’t be. Instead, what you need is a compromise.
“We put a small amount of fuchsia as an accent on the top third of the wall, so she would see it when she walked in. But, when she sat down, it would be above eye level,” says Miller.
By incorporating a bit of scientific research, designers are giving clients want they want, but delivering it in ways they don’t realize will make them happy in the long-run. And it is this kind of success that shapes a designer’s career.
“A client will feel better in the space, even if they don’t know why,” says Miller. “And that will reflect on a designer and make the person happier in their home.”
Don’t know what hues boost your mood? Check the antique rug slideshow below for a few color clues!